May 19th, 2016
Hodgdon Powder Company (Hodgdon) offers a series of professionally produced how-to videos on its popular Reloading Data Center. These 3.5-minute videos present rifle, pistol, and shotshell reloading basics in an easy-to-understand,step-by-step format. These mobile-friendly, informative videos can also be viewed on a smart phone or tablet.
To watch the reloading videos go to the Reloading Data Center at hodgdon.com. Click to the right/left of the displayed video to switch between pistol, rifle, and shotgun videos. Or, for your convenience, we have embedded the Rifle and Pistol videos here. Just click to watch!
Click to Watch Hodgdon Rifle Reloading Video:
Click to Watch Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Video:
In addition to these videos, Hodgdon’s Reloading Data Center (RDC) provides a wealth of information on Hodgdon®, IMR®, and Winchester® propellants. Along with reliable load data, you’ll find explanations of reloading basics, safety procedures, plus answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ).
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May 13th, 2016
Ever wondered about the stability of the propellants in your reloading room? There are some important things you should know about powder storage, to ensure consistent powder performance and safety. On its website, Western Powders (vendors of Accurate, Norma, and Ramshot powders) published an informative Q & A series entitled Dear Labby: Questions for our Ballistics Lab. Here are some excerpts that pertain to powder storage and shelf life. Worried that your powder may be too old? Western’s experts explain how to check your propellants for warning signs.
Proper Powder Storage
Q: I live in southern Arizona where it is very hot. I am told powders will become unstable if stored in an area not air-conditioned. My wife says no powder or primers in the house. Can powder be stored in a refrigerator? What about using a fireproof safe? I would appreciate your ideas. — M.C.
Lab Answer: SAAMI guidelines are pretty clear on issues of storage. They recommend storing smokeless powder in containers that will not allow pressure to build if the powder is ignited — ruling out gun safes and refrigerators.
CLICK HERE to Read SAAMI Guidelines for Powder Storage (PDF)
In their original containers smokeless powder’s lifespan is quite long, even in your hot, arid climate, typically longer than the average handloader would need to store them. Stored safely in a garage or outbuilding, your powder should last years. If you see the powder developing a reddish tint, or giving off a foul odor, it is time to discard it.
Clumps in Powder Container
Q: I ordered some of your Accurate 1680 powder back about in December. I just now opened it … and it is full of clumps. My knowledge tells me that means moisture. Am I wrong? I just now broke the seal and it has been stored in a ammo can with desiccant packs around it and a dehumidifier running 14-16 hours a day. I can’t imagine this being my fault, if this does indicate moisture. I don’t know if the pink part on the label is suppose to be red or not, but it is definitely pink, so if it was red I am wondering if I was shipped an old container? I hope that this isn’t bad and I am stuck with it…
Lab Answer: All powder contains a certain amount of moisture. When the powder is stored or during shipping, it can go through temperature cycles. During the cycling, the moisture can be pulled to the surface and cause clumping. Clumping can also be caused by static electricity if too dry or the powder has limited graphite content. You can break up the clumps before metering and they shouldn’t be a problem. This will not affect the powder performance, so your product is fine. Accurate 1680 labels are designed in Pink. As a side note, specification for testing powder is at 70° F and 60% humidity.
Shelf Life and Packaging Dates
Q: Does powder ever get to old to use and what identifying marks does your company put on the canister for when it is made, You have helped me out a while ago when I asked about keeping my cowboy shooting under 950 fps and it works great less stress on the hand and the recoil is very minimum. — R.B.
Lab Answer: On one pound bottles, the number is on the corner in a silver box. If the powder was poured today, it would read 012815 followed by a lot number. The whole number would look something like 012815749. Eight pound bottles have a sticker on the bottom with an obvious date code. The lot number appears above the date.
SUMMARY: Powder can have a very long shelf life. You need to watch for changes in smell and color. A reddish tinge, almost like rust on the powder, is a bad sign, as is a foul odor, not to be confused with a normal chemical smell. Either of these signs indicate it is time to dispose of your powder by means other than shooting.
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April 22nd, 2016
In 2015, IMR® Powder introduced a new line of powders with Enduron® Technology. These powders are designed to address several performance gaps as powder technology has advanced. Here are key features of the Enduron line of propellants:
- Enduron powders contain an additive that drastically reduces copper fouling in the gun barrel. Copper fouling should be minimal, allowing shooters to spend more time shooting and less time cleaning a rifle to retain accuracy.
- The new Enduron line is insensitive to temperature changes. Whether a rifle is sighted in during the heat of summer, hunted in a November snowstorm or hunting multiple locations with drastic temperature swings, point of impact with ammunition loaded with Enduron technology will be very consistent.
- Enduron powders provide optimal load density, assisting in maintaining low standard deviations in velocity and pressure, a key feature for top accuracy.
- Enduron technology is environmentally friendly, crafted using raw materials that are not harmful to the environment.
New IMR 4955 for Larger Cartridges
For 2016, IMR has introduced IMR 4955, a new Enduron extruded powder that is a top performer with popular cartridges such as 270 Winchester, 25-06 Remington, 280 Remington, 300 Winchester Magnum and many more. This new powder falls directly between the new IMR 4451 and IMR 7977 in burn speed, providing excellent performance for most big-game cartridges. Like all Enduron Technology powders, IMR 4955 is temperature insensitive, as shown below.
Adding this propellant to the Enduron line filled in an important place on reloading benches. IMR 4955, plus the original three Enduron powders, provide excellent loading solutions for cartridges from 223 Remington to the massive 500 Nitro Express Magnum. Further, in these days of powder shortages, these new Enduron powders can fill a gap by providing comparable performance to select Hodgdon® powders. Specifically, IMR 4955 is a great choice for cartridges that work well with Hodgdon H4831.
IMR Enduron 4955 is available in one-pound (1 lb.) and eight-pound (8 lb.) containers from quality reloading retailers.
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January 4th, 2016
Hey guys, you’ll probably want to download this new Powder Burn Rate Chart issued by Hodgdon/IMR. This new table shows the latest IMR powders including the Enduron series (IMR 4166, 4451, 4955, 7977), shown in green below. This chart provides useful information for all hand-loaders. When doing load development, and testing one powder versus another, it’s generally wise to choose propellants that share the same relative burn rate, as least for starters. NOTE: Hodgdon powders are shown in blue, while IMR standard powders are shown in yellow. DOWNLOAD Chart HERE.
NEW POWDER BURN RATE TABLE from IMRPowder.com
CLICK HERE to Download Chart as PDF File.
Story find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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November 12th, 2015
IMR just announced its latest Enduron powder, IMR 4955, which features a medium-slow burn rate similar to Hodgdon H4831 or IMR 4831. The IMR Enduron powders are clean-burning, temp stable, and feature a proprietary coating that helps reduce copper fouling. We are looking forward to trying IMR 4955 based on our positive experience with IMR 4166. We have used Enduron 4166 and have seen excellent accuracy in .308 Winchester and 6mm BR rifles.
IMR 4955 lands between IMR 4451 and IMR 7977 on the burn rate chart. Hodgdon, which distributes IMR powders, says that IMR 4955 works very well for cartridges such as 25-06 Remington, .270 Winchester, and the .300 Winchester Magnum. Perhaps this will prove a good choice for the .284 Win and .300 WSM as well (F-Open shooters take note). If you are currently using H4831 or H4831sc you should probably give IMR 4955 a try.
Hodgdon says IMR 4955 offers some important advantages:
1. IMR 4955 has a small kernel size. This allows the powder to flow through powder measures easily and meter very accurately.
3. IMR 4955 is very insensitive to temperature changes, so shooters should see uniform velocities across a broad temp range.
3. IMR 4955 has very good load density for medium and big game hunting cartridges (such as the .270 Win and .300 Win Mag).
4. Like other Enduron powders, IMR 4955 boasts a special additive that helps reduce copper fouling as the rifle is fired.
IMR 4955 Should Be Available Early Next Year
— Load Data is Online Now
IMR 4955 will be available in early 2016 in one-pound and eight-pound containers. With the addition of IMR 4955 to the series of Enduron powders, reloaders have a new, advanced-formulation powder that should work for a wide variety of popular cartridges — from the .260 Rem up to big magnums. Reloading data for IMR 4955 is now available online in the Hodgdon Reloading Data Center. Below is a sample of Hodgdon/IMR load data for IMR 4955 as used in the .300 Win Mag cartridge.
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October 26th, 2015
We’ve all heard the old adage: “Keep your powder dry.” Well, tests by Norma have demonstrated that even normal environmental differences in humidity can affect the way powders burn, at least over the long term. In the Norma Reloading Manual, Sven-Eric Johansson, head of ballistics at Nexplo/Bofors, presents a very important discussion of water vapor absorption by powder. Johansson demonstrates that the same powder will burn at different rates depending on water content.
Powders Leave the Factory with 0.5 to 1.0% Water Content
Johansson explains that, as manufactured, most powders contain 0.5 to 1% of water by weight. (The relative humidity is “equilibrated” at 40-50% during the manufacturing process to maintain this 0.5-1% moisture content). Importantly, Johansson notes that powder exposed to moist air for a long time will absorb water, causing it to burn at a slower rate. On the other hand, long-term storage in a very dry environment reduces powder moisture content, so the powder burns at a faster rate. In addition, Johansson found that single-base powders are MORE sensitive to relative humidity than are double-base powders (which contain nitroglycerine).
Tests Show Burn Rates Vary with Water Content
In his review of the Norma Manual, Fred Barker notes: “Johansson gives twelve (eye-opening) plots of the velocities and pressures obtained on firing several popular cartridges with dehydrated, normal and hydrated Norma powders (from #200 to MRP). He also gives results on loaded .30-06 and .38 Special cartridges stored for 663 to 683 days in relative humidities of 20% and 86%. So Johansson’s advice is to keep powders tightly capped in their factory containers, and to minimize their exposure to dry or humid air.”
Confirming Johansson’s findings that storage conditions can alter burn rates, Barker observes: “I have about 10 pounds of WWII 4831 powder that has been stored in dry (about 20% RH) Colorado air for more than 60 years. It now burns about like IMR 3031.”
What does this teach us? First, all powders start out with a small, but chemically important, amount of water content. Second, a powder’s water content can change over time, depending on where and how the powder is stored. Third, the water content of your powder DOES make a difference in how it burns, particularly for single-base powders. For example, over a period of time, a powder used (and then recapped) in the hot, dry Southwest will probably behave differently than the same powder used in the humid Southeast.
Reloaders are advised to keep these things in mind. If you want to maintain your powders’ “as manufactured” burn rate, it is wise to head Johannson’s recommendation to keep your powders tightly capped when you’re not actually dispensing charges and avoid exposing your powder to very dry or very humid conditions. The Norma Reloading Manual is available from Amazon.com.
|Real-World Example — “Dry” H4831sc Runs Hotter
Robert Whitley agrees that the burn rate of the powder varies with the humidity it absorbs. Robert writes: “I had an 8-lb. jug of H4831SC I kept in my detached garage (it can be humid there). 43.5-44.0 gr of this was superbly accurate with the 115 Bergers out of my 6mm Super X. I got tired of bringing it in and out of the garage to my house for reloading so I brought and kept the jug in my reloading room (a dehumidified room in my house) and after a few weeks I loaded up 43.5 gr, went to a match and it shot awful. I could not figure out what was going on until I put that load back over the chronograph and figured out it was going a good bit faster than before and the load was out of the “sweet spot” (42.5 – 43.0 gr was the max I could load and keep it accurate when it was stored in less humid air). I put the jug back in the garage for a few weeks and I now am back to loading 43.5 – 44.0 gr and it shoots great again. I have seen this with other powders too.”
If you have two jugs of the same powder, one kept in a room in your house and one somewhere else where it is drier or more humid, don’t expect the two jugs of the same lot of powder to chrono the same with the same charge weights unless and until they are both stored long enough in the same place to equalize again.
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September 18th, 2015
Have you tried the IMR Enduron powders yet (IMR 4166, 4451, and 7977)? We’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen. IMR’s new line of Enduron extruded powders offer good temp stability, reduced copper fouling, and good load density for many of the most popular cartridges (such as .223 Rem, .308 Win, .30-06, 300 WSM to name a few). Some of our Forum members have reported excellent results with IMR 4166 in the 6mmBR, Dasher, 6.5×47 Lapua and .308 Win. One member wrote: “in my 6.5×47… 4166 gives speeds and accuracy pretty much exactly the same as Varget.” And other shooters have observed reduced copper fouling with Enduron series powders, so IMR’s Enduron anti-fouling chemistry does seem to work.
IMR Legendary Powders provided this summary of Enduron Properties:
Varmint hunters, big game hunters, match shooters and military snipers all seek powders that are insensitive to temperature changes. These powders all have it. This translates to point of impact and group size remaining the same, no matter what temperature conditions prevail. Another huge benefit is an additive that prevents copper fouling from building during dozens of rounds being fired. Here the advantage is top accuracy for longer periods of time, and less cleaning time.
A third major accomplishment with this technology is ideal load density. Experienced reloaders know that a case-filling load often delivers the most uniform velocities and best accuracy. We see this in popular match cartridges such as the 6PPC, 6mmBR, and .308 Win. These new Enduron powders offer excellent “full case” load density for the most commonly used cartridges with popular bullets.
These three powders, IMR 4166, IMR 4451 and IMR 7977, are environmentally friendly by not having any ingredients harmful to the environment. Add to that, the three of them cover the most popular cartridges from .204 Ruger up to the mighty 500 Nitro Express, and the handloader “has it all”.
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March 12th, 2015
Looking for powder? Precision Reloading just received a pretty large shipment of Hodgdon, IMR, and Winchester Powders. This vendor also has popular Accurate, Alliant, Norma, and Vihtavuori Powders in stock. Sorry, no Varget or H4350 arrived, but Precision Reloading does have many popular propellants now. Powders currently IN STOCK at Precision Reloading (as of 9:00 am, 3/12/2015):
Hodgdon: H4831sc, H4831, H4198, H414, H335, H380, Hybrid 100V, H50BMG, Titegroup, 800X, Superformance, LeveRevolution (and others).
IMR: 4166 (New Enduron), 4227, 4320, 4350, 4451 (New Enduron), 4895, 7828SSC,
Alliant: RL33, RL50, 4000MR, PowerPro Varmint
Norma: 200, 201, 202, 203B (like RL15), 204, MRP, URP
Accurate: 4064, 4350, 5744, Magpro
Vihtavuori: N133, N135, N160, N340, 20N29
Reloading tip: If you currently use Alliant Reloder 15, Norma 203 B is very, very close. It is made by the same manufacturer, in the same plant, with the same burn rate and kernel size. Of course, for safety, you should still start low and work up your load incrementally.
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December 4th, 2014
The 2015 Hodgdon Annual Manual (the 12th Annual Edition) has been released. The 2015 Hodgdon Manual now contains over 5000 loads — more load data than you’ll find in any other annual reloading resource. The 2015 Manual has updates for numerous rifle and pistol cartridges. Featured in the 2015 Manual are the new IMR Enduron™ powders such as IMR 4166, IMR 4451, and IMR 7977. Enduron powders feature a built-in copper fouling reducer, along with small kernels for easy metering and good load density. IMR also claims that Enduron powders are not sensitive to ambient temperature changes. It appears IMR 4166 may be a viable alternative to Hodgdon’s popular, but hard to find, Varget powder.
Along with comprehensive load data, the 8 1/2″ by 11″ magazine-style Hodgdon Annual Manual offers authoritative articles by top gun industry writers. You can purchase the 2015 Manual at news-stands (and gunshops) for $8.99. In a few weeks, you should also be able to purchase the manual from Hodgdon’s online store. For more info, visit Hodgdon.com or call 913-362-9455.
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November 7th, 2014
Powder Valley Inc. (PVI) now has the new IMR 4166 powder. This is an all-new extruded powder with a burn rate similar to Hodgdon Varget. It is expected to perform well in the .308 Winchester and in 6mm cartridges running the heavier (95-107gr) projectiles. IMR’s press release states: “IMR 4166 [has] a perfect burn speed for cartridges like the 308 Win/7.62mm NATO, 22-250 Remington, 257 Roberts and dozens more.”
IMR 4166 is one of the new Enduron family of propellants. It is formulated to reduce fouling and to be stable across a wide temperature range. If you commonly use Varget, Alliant Reloder 15, Norma 203B, IMR 8208 XBR, or Vihtavuori N140, you might want to try IMR 4166. It is available right now at Powder Valley in both one-pound ($25.45) and 8-pound ($182.75) containers:
IMR4166-01: IMR 4166 – 1 LB. — $25.45
IMR4166-08: IMR 4166 – 8 LBS. — $182.75
For more information and IMR 4166 LOAD DATA visit imrpowder.com or check the 2015 Hodgdon Annual Manual. Load data should be forthcoming pretty soon.
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October 21st, 2014
IMR is bringing out a new series of advanced-formulation extruded powders. In 2015, IMR will introduce three (3) new Enduron powders: IMR 4166, IMR 4451, and IMR 7977. The new line of IMR Enduron powders feature small kernels for easy metering, plus a built-in copper fouling eliminator. IMR claims that Enduron powders are not sensitive to temperature changes. If this is true, these powders should prove popular, particularly IMR 4166 which seems to be in the Varget/Reloder 15 burn-rate range. With Varget so hard to find, if IMR 4166 proves accurate (and available) we might see many .308 Win shooters make the switch. IMR states that IMR 4166 is a “versatile, match grade propellant”. We’ve been quite pleased with IMR 8208 XBR as a Varget alternative. IMR 8208 XBR is accurate, clean-burning, and offers good velocity. Perhaps the new IMR 4166 will be as good or better.
When will Enduron powders appear on dealers’ shelves? Hodgdon Powder Co., distributors of Hodgdon, IMR, and Winchester powders, says that: “The new IMR Enduron™ Technology powders will be available at dealers in early 2015 in 1-pound and 8-pound containers.” For more information and Enduron LOAD DATA visit imrpowder.com or check the 2015 Hodgdon Annual Manual.
IMR’s press release provides these descriptions of the new Enduron propellants:
IMR 4166 is the first in the series of Enduron™ propellants. It’s a perfect burn speed for cartridges like the 308 Win/7.62mm NATO, 22-250 Remington, 257 Roberts and dozens more.
IMR 4451 Another new Enduron powder that gives top performance in the venerable .30-06, 270 Winchester, and 300 Winchester Short Magnum, to name just a few. This propellant is ideally suited for many mid-range burn speed cartridges.
IMR 7977 is the slowest burn rate Enduron Technology powder. It is a true magnum cartridge propellant with outstanding performance in such cartridges as the .300 Winchester Magnum, 7mm Remington Magnum, .338 Lapua and more.
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August 22nd, 2014
Click image to go to Grafs.com
Grafs.com now has many popular IMR Powders in stock (see inventory below). And, the price is right on IMR 4895 and IMR 4350 — Just $24.99 per pound with current sale pricing. Act soon, as quantities are limited. Note, for IMR 4895 and IMR 4350, customers are limited to ten (10) pounds of each propellant per order (that’s ten, 1-lb containers of each).
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August 4th, 2014
Midsouth Shooters Supply has received a substantial amount of popular reloading powders. This is good news for folks who have been short on powder. No, there’s still no Hodgdon Varget or H4350, but Midsouth does have many other great propellants in stock. Hodgdon powders in stock today include the popular H322, Benchmark, Retumbo, H50BMG, and US 869 (a spherical powder for big magnums). IMR propellants in stock include IMR 4227, IMR 4320, IMR 4831, IMR 4895, IMR 7828SSC, IMR 8208 XBR. Midsouth also hase Vihtavuori N135, N160, and N165 in stock now.
CLICK HERE for Smokeless Powder in Stock at Midsouth Shooters Supply.
Partial Selection of Powders Currently in Stock at Midsouth:
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February 18th, 2014
Hodgdon has rolled out a completely updated online Reloading Data Center for pistol, rifle, and shotgun reloaders. Check out the enhanced Data Center at www.HodgdonReloading.com.
As before, you’ll find thousands of load recipes for pistol, rifle, and shotgun. Rifle shooters will find dozens of loads for their favorite Hodgdon, IMR, and Winchester powders such as H4198, Varget, H4350, and IMR 8208 XBR. And Hodgdon’s Reloading Center is now faster and easier to use. Navigation is simplified and the whole interface is more user-friendly.
You’ll notice changes in the way the online Data Center works. Now you have more control over the results. After choosing a cartridge, you can pre-select specific bullet weights and powder types. That quickly delivers just the information you want and need. You won’t have to scroll through scores of entries for bullets or powders you don’t use.
Mobile users will notice that the updated/enhanced Reloading Center is much more “user-friendly” for smart-phone and tablet users. Controls have been optimized for touch-screens, and buttons are large and easy to use. Likewise the results are displayed in a large, easy-to read format.
Hodgdon tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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August 2nd, 2012
After 65 years in the same Merriam, Kansas location, Hodgdon Powder Company, Inc., a leading provider of smokeless and muzzleloading powders, has moved into new corporate headquarters on Vista Drive in Shawnee, Kansas.
In 1947 Company founder Bruce Hodgdon originally established his powder business in Merriam, Kansas. This same location had served as the company headquarters for the past six and a half decades. However, Hodgdon’s operations have outgrown the original facility. So, a new, larger facility has been established just eight miles from the old location. The new Corporate Headquarters in Shawnee, KS offers a museum, first class reloading training facilities, conference rooms, guest lobby, and modern office space for staff.
READ History of Hodgdon Powder Company.
Commenting on the move, CEO Tom Shepherd said, “This is a new era and exciting time for Hodgdon, after months of preparation we are delighted to have secured this facility for future growth opportunities.” To find out more about Hodgdon visit hodgdon.com, write to 6430 Vista Drive, Shawnee, KS 66218 or call 913-362-9455.
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November 22nd, 2011
Hodgdon® Powder Co. will release its 9th Annual Manual early next year. The 2012 Hodgdon Annual Manual features 100+ pages of rifle and pistol data with over 5,000 load recipes. The load data covers 30 Hodgdon, 19 IMR® and 10 Winchester® brand powders. New content this year includes: 300 AAC Blackout load data, and lead-free bullet recipes for 21 rifle cartridges. In addition, the new 2012 Manual spotlights Hodgdon’s new CFE™223 propellant. Tests of this new powder show that it can deter copper fouling in many cartridge types (“CFE” stand for “Copper Fouling Eraser”). The 2012 manual provides plenty of reloading recipes for the new CFE™223 — 147 loads for 27 cartridges.
Along with comprehensive load data, the 2012 manual offers seven authoritative articles by top gun and outdoor industry writers. One interesting article covers economical hand-loading with lead free “green” bullets. Both competitive shooters and hunters will find other articles of interest.
You’ll find the 2012 Hodgdon manual at newsstands and gun stores in early 2012, priced at $8.99. You can also order direct by visiting Hodgdon.com or calling (912) 362-9455. (Direct sales price is $11.99.)
Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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August 15th, 2010
Powder Valley, a major vendor of powder, primers, brass, bullets, and loaded ammo, has received some large shipments of popular powders including Hodgdon Varget and IMR 8208 XBR. Powder Valley also has the hard-to-find Alliant Reloder 17 powder in stock, in both 1-lb and 5-lb containers.
Powder Valley Now Stocks Factory-Loaded Ammo
FYI, Powder Valley is now stocking quality factory-loaded ammo from Lapua, Hornady, Nosler, Prvi Partizan, and Wolf. If you’re looking for match-grade Lapua factory ammo or the Hornady .223 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .30-06 ammo, give Powder Valley a call at 800-227-4299.
Powder Valley Inventory Updates on Facebook
IMR 8208: Finished up the backorders on 8208 8#. We received in about 200 kegs from Hodgdon last week and have filled backorders that were placed prior to June 25.
Powder Valley now posts recent product arrivals on Facebook. If you have a Facebook account you can link to the Powder Valley page to get the latest updates.
Large shipments of primers received over the last couple days. Received 2 million Winchester, 1.2 million Federal, 1.5 million Rem and 6 million Tula. Also received large shipment of Winchester brass.
Varget 8-lb jugs have arrived. We won’t update the website until Monday. Facebookers go ahead and put your order in now and you will get first dibs.
Received in about 2 million Remington primers. Also, received a large shipment of backorders from Berger. We will be receiving about 125,000 Federal Small Pistol primers later this week and about 2-2.5 million in 3-4 weeks. We will begin listing these primers on the website August 3 so you can place an order if you would like.
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March 15th, 2010
We have a “Palma/Tactical” project gun in the works built with an Eliseo chassis, Borden action, and one of Krieger’s very first 5R barrels. Initial load testing with Hodgdon Varget showed excellent accuracy potential, but we weren’t achieving the velocity we hoped to get from the 30″ medium-Palma-contour barrel. With Lapua brass and Varget we ran short of case capacity when seating bullets to mag-length, and the best accuracy came at about 2860 fps, well under competitive Palma velocities.
Mark LaFevers with .308 Win Eliseo Tubegun on SEB NEO front coaxial rest. Mark made the wood front bag-rider.
Chris Hodgdon kindly shipped us some H4895 and some of the new IMR 8208 XBR powder, lot #1022510-4798. In beautiful 70° conditions yesterday, we did a quick pressure work-up with both powders to determine “practical max” loads with the Berger 155.5gr Fullbore bullets (#30416). The 155.5s were loaded in once-fired Lapua brass with CCI BR2 primers, to a COAL of 2.860″, which is about .010″ short of land contact.
Varget-beating Speeds from Both IMR 8208 XBR and H4895
We loaded up two rounds at each charge weight, starting with the Hodgdon’s recommended starter load for a 155gr Sierra HPBT, as found in Hodgdon’s online Reloading Data Center. (There was no load listed for the 155.5gr Berger). It’s good that we started low because we saw immediately that both the 8208 XBR and the H4895 were yielding much more velocity, grain for grain, than Varget. Though we were not shooting for groups, the 8208 XBR also seemed to have a very large accuracy load window. Moreover, the velocity spreads for each two-round 8208 charge (above 43.0 grains) were remarkably low — none were more than 6 fps, and the velocities on our two 44.0-grain shots were exactly the same — 2992 fps. (This was NOT an error — the chron registered both shots #7 and #8.)
Of course, you can’t conclude much about ES/SD from just two shots, but the speed consistency in the 8208 was notable as you can see from the chart above. By contrast, each pair of H4895 shots varied in speed much more. For example, the two-shot ES for 43.0 grains of H4895 was 14 fps, while the two-shot 8208 XBR spread (for 43.0 grains) was 4 fps. It will be interesting to see if further testing confirms the low ES/SD potential of IMR 8208 XBR in the .308 Winchester.
We dispensed charges with an RCBS ChargeMaster calibrated and leveled on a granite bed. The 8208 XBR has smaller kernels than either Varget or H4895 and, as we expected, 8208 XBR dispensed very easily. The H4895, with longer kernels, dispensed fine in the ChargeMaster, but it took the machine more time to trickle the H4895.
As noted, we didn’t shoot for groups, but the IMR 8208 looked like it would shoot really well at anywhere from 43.0 to 44.0 grains. The H4895 proved accurate as well, at least in the high pressure ranges. We need to do 5-shot testing, over flags, before drawing any real conclusions. But right now we can say that, if you’re shooting a .308 with 150-155 grain bullets, you should definitely try the IMR 8208 XBR. It looks like a near-perfect match for the Palma-class bullets. The velocity is great, it appears the ES will be very low, and 8208 XBR packs more densely than Varget so you won’t have to run compressed loads.
Our most important discovery was that both 8208 XBR and H4895 offered significant velocity gains over Varget, at least in this rifle. It looks like 8208 XBR can run 2990 fps in this gun without pressure issues, while H4895 may top 3000 fps. Varget struggled to get much past 2900 fps.
IMPORTANT WARNING: The stated max load for IMR 8208 XBR with a Sierra 155gr HPBT was 45.3 grains, while the stated max load for H4895 (same bullet) was 46.0 grains. Note that, in this rifle, which has a tight 0.298″ Palma bore, we hit pressure limits well before reaching Hodgdon’s “book max.” Read that again carefully folks. Our 44.0 grain “practical max” for 8208 XBR was a FULL GRAIN less than the stated max load with a Sierra 155-grainer. Likewise we started getting stiff bolt lift at 44.3 grains of H4895 — a long way from the 46.0 grain stated max. So, the combination of a different bullet, and a tighter-than-normal bore made a significant difference in pressures. This is why, if you change ANY component in a load recipe you MUST start low for safety. And never assume that a factory “Max Load” is safe or “conservative”.
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January 28th, 2010
We know many of our readers are interested in the new IMR 8208 XBR powder distributed by Hodgdon Powder Company. Early test lots of this new propellant have already won important benchrest matches, and field testing has shown that it is extremely stable across a wide temperature range. At SHOT Show 2010, we interviewed Chris Hodgdon, who gave us the “inside story” on this new powder. Before we started taping, Chris shared with us lab test results showing how pressure of a fixed load varied with ambient temperature. The data was stunning. Basically 8208 XBR showed almost constant pressures from below freezing to well over 100° F. This editor has personally never seen a powder test that revealed “flat-line” results like 8208 XBR, with recorded pressures remaining virtually unchanged over a huge temperature range. If the test results are to be believed, this is indeed a very exceptional powder.
On some internet Forums, skeptics have suggested that IMR 8208 XBR is just an “odd lot of H322″, and that, accordingly, 8208 XBR may not be available for long. Chris told us that the skeptics are misinformed — those who have suggested that 8208 XBR is re-labeled H322 are completely wrong. IMR 8208 XBR IS something new and it IS here to stay. IMR 8208 XBR is NOT merely a “tweaked” blend of H322. Though 8208 XBR has small kernels like H322, allowing it to meter well, 8208 XBR is a completely new formulation. Moreover, IMR 8208 XBR is not going to be a “one-production-run” wonder. Chris explained that Hodgdon is fully committed to long-term production of this new powder. So if you acquire some now, and develop a great load, rest assured that you will be able to obtain more IMR 8208 XBR in the future. As Chris explains in the interview, Hodgdon is strongly committed to IMR 8208 XBR and Hodgdon plans to keep it in production for a long time.
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December 21st, 2009
Grafs.com has received a large shipment of the new IMR 8208 XBR powder. This is good news as Powder Valley recently sold out. Grafs.com has both 8-lb jugs for $149.99 (item IMR82088) as well as smaller 1-lb containers for $21.99 (item IMR82081).
If you haven’t heard about IMR 8208 XBR, this is a very promising new powder that is very accurate, meters well, and is much less temp sensitive than other powders of similar burn rate. This powder should be ideal for many applications including .223 Rem, .204 Ruger, 6 PPC, and .308 Winchester. Will 8208 XBR work in a 6BR or Dasher with heavy bullets? We’ll let you know soon — we’re planning to test it ourselves with an 8-twist 6mm BR.
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